tiles on a mosque

Course Information

Courses Descriptions

The department offers a wide range of courses that address a rich variety of issues in religious studies.

REL S 100. Exploring the Bible (3) [GE]

Basic content and themes of the Hebrew Bible and New Testament using methods of contemporary biblical studies. Attention to ancient Near Eastern and Greco-Roman cultural settings as well as the impact of the Bible on contemporary culture.


REL S 101. World Religions (3) [GE]

Major world and selected tribal traditions from primal times to present. Broad historical development and philosophical overview including founders, teachings, beliefs, practices, and interactions with culture, such as art, literature, politics.


REL S 102. Exploring the Qur’an (3) [GE]

Basic content and themes of the Qur’an from an historical perspective using academic methods of study. Consideration of relationships to other Abrahamic scriptures. Exegetical approaches from sectarian and modern political viewpoints.


REL S 103. American Religious Diversity (3) [GE]

Religious identities and traditions of diverse peoples living in the US. Major world religions in context of contemporary multicultural America. Religions of indigenous peoples and religious movements, which have arisen in US.

 

REL S 258. Death, Dying, and Afterlife (D) (3) [GE]

Diverse ways religions deal with process of dying and rituals involved in transition of life to death. Grieving, end-of-life decisions, views on afterlife. (Formerly numbered Religious Studies 358.


REL S 296. Experimental Topics (1-4)

Selected topics. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Limit of nine units of any combination of 296, 496, 596 courses applicable to a bachelor’s degree.

NOTE: Courses for Area (A) Texts; or Area (B) Traditions; or Area (C) Theories and Methods; or Area (D) Critical Issues in Religion, are identified in the course title as (A), (B), (C), or (D).

REL S 301. Hebrew Bible (A) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Literature, history, major themes of Bible; methods and concerns of contemporary biblical studies. Situates folkloric, political, heroic, poetic, and religious meanings of texts among their original audiences.


REL S 305. The New Testament (A) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Structure, composition, meaning of New Testament; methods for interpreting Biblical texts. Focus on letters of Paul, post-Pauline writings, Gospel accounts of Jesus’s life.

REL S 310. The Qur’an (A) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Major themes of Qur’an including cosmology, eschatology, good and evil, gender, God and monotheism, People of the Book (Jews and Christians), and role of religion in society. Attention to historical period in which the Qur’an was compiled.


REL S 315. Yoga: Theory and Practice (A) (3)

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Primary texts from sacred literatures of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism that relate to yoga. Yoga as an independent contemplative tradition with analysis of mind and various techniques of meditation. Methods of interpretation, issues of translation, social and historical contexts.


REL S 320. Judaism (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Jewish history, culture, theory, and practice. Biblical roots of modern Jewish beliefs, basic movements within modern Judaism; Jewish calendar and Jewish life cycle as seen in Hebrew Bible, short stories, and films.


REL S 325. Christianity (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Historical development of Christian traditions and major issues confronting Christianity today. Beliefs and practices important to Christian self-understanding, debates over authority of Bible, accommodations to modern science, and relationship with non-Christian religions.


REL S 328. Islam (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Islamic religion and culture in Asia, Africa, and Near East. History, doctrines, practices, literatures, social and intellectual movements, role of Muhammad, and gender relations within Islam as understood in global context.


REL S 330. Abrahamic Faiths: Shared Stories (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Theological, textual, and political relations among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Shared religious practices and stories such as creation, sacrifice, theories of evil and salvation, prophecy and Messianic expectations. Contemporary issues regarding gender, fundamentalism, and rise of nationalism.


REL S 335. Comparative Mysticism (B) (3)

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Meaning, origin, and development of mysticism. Purgation, illumination, annihilation, separation, covenant, and union of soul with the Divine as found in world scriptures, writings of prominent mystics, and mystical movements such as Kabbalists, Sufi s, and yogic traditions.


REL S 337. Asian Religions in America (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
History, development, and study of Asian American religions. Issues and problems particular to predicaments and situations of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.


REL S 338. Buddhism (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Life and teachings of Buddha, foundational concepts of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism. Buddhist psychology and soteriology, meditative techniques, ethical issues; contemporary Buddhism, particularly in America.


REL S 339. Religions of India (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Religious pluralism of Indian sub-continent. Influences of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Islam, and Sikhism upon each other and social structures of gender, race, and caste. Karma and rebirth, liberation theories and practices, the interaction of mainstream religions with minority and indigenous tribal rituals and beliefs.


REL S 341. Zen and the Way of Japanese Religions (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Historical analysis of major components of classical, medieval, early modern and modern religious systems of Japan through texts, images, rituals, and institutions.


REL S 342. Hinduism (B) (3)

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Historical development of Hinduism from its Harappan and Vedic origins to contemporary times. Hindu myths and rituals, gods and goddesses, art, architecture and sacred geographies; Hindu philosophies and ascetic traditions, yogas and tantras; modern Hinduism, diaspora Hinduism and Indian nationalism.


REL S 343. Sociology of Religion (C) (3) [GE] (Same course as Sociology 338)

Prerequisites: Sociology 101 and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.B., Social and Behavioral Sciences required for nonmajors.
Forms of religious belief, knowledge, practice, and experience tied to different social arrangements and historical periods. Consequences of religion for community and society. Secularization and conversion processes in modern industrial societies. See the project examples for this class.


REL S 345. Religions of East Asia (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies. Recommended: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism in broad historical and cultural context. Focus on Chan (Zen) school of Buddhism, Confucius, neo-Confucianism of Ju Xi, and Taoist masters Lao Ze and Chuang Ze.


REL S 350. Experiencing the Sacred (C) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Nature and scope of religious experience; transformations of consciousness and self through altered modes of human awareness and mind-body relationships. Yogic and ascetic experience, Shamanic trance and spirit possession, ecstatic experience and mysticism. Techniques of compassion.


REL S 351. Black Religions and Spirituality (B) (3) (Same course as Africana Studies 351)

Prerequisite: Religious Studies 101 or Africana Studies 101B.
Major Black religious and spiritual responses and expressions in Africa and Black diaspora, including creation of institutions to support and advance religious and spiritual matters.


REL S 352. Jainism (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Historical development of Jainism from its origins to modernity. Jainism in North America. Jain architecture, art, myths, philosophies, rituals, sacred geographies, and theology.


REL S 353. Religion and Psychology (C) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Religious dimensions of psyche using insights from academic and transpersonal psychology. Construction of religious identities through spiritual practice and transformation. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Maximum credit six units of which three units may be applicable to General Education.


REL S 354. Religion, Myth, and Storytelling (C) (3) [GE]

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Introduces, analyzes, and examines issues and themes in the narrative traditions of the world’s religions.


REL S 355. Religious Ritual and Practice (C) (3) [GE]

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Introduces, analyzes, and examines issues and themes in the ritual traditions of the world’s religions.


REL S 356. Hip Hop and Religion (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Study of the intersection between the global hip hop movement and religious traditions from across the world.


REL S 357. Sikhism (B) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Sikh articles of faith, culture, history, identity, practices, and theories. Sikh attitudes on class, gender, race, and sexual orientation. Development of Sikh religious institutions in America.

REL S 363. Religion and the Sciences (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Views of science and religion as separate, conflicting, complementary, and overlapping. Galileo and the Church, the Scopes Trial, and twentieth century physics provide historical examples for study of assumptions about science and religion.


REL S 364. Religion and Film (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Representations of religion in modern cinema and analysis of how religious themes and imagery in film reflect societal values, beliefs, and morals.


REL S 370. Goddess Studies (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
The divine feminine in mainstream and marginalized religions. Goddess/nature worship and its transformation across time and culture to include ancient religion, mythology, indigenous traditions, and world religions.


REL S 373. Women and the Bible (A) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Narrative, legal, and poetic material about women in Bible. How women are depicted by authors of Bible, lives of women in ancient world, how women and women’s studies are transforming biblical studies


REL S 376. Nature, Spirituality, Ecology (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Cross-cultural religious views of nature. Attention to sacred texts, writings of naturalists, deep ecologists, and ecofeminists on place of nature in spirituality and role of spirituality in ecology.


REL S 379. Religious Violence and Nonviolence (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Role of religion in terrorism, hate groups, scapegoating, domestic and ecological violence, versus role of religion in peacemaking and movements for social justice. Nonviolent philosophies of Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., and pacifism in Jain, Buddhist, and Christian traditions.


REL S 380. Atheism, Humanism, and Secularism (D) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities for nonmajors.
Atheism, humanism, and secularism in western culture to include the creation of institutions that support and advance these movements. Rise of unbelief in reaction to contemporary religious fundamentalism and attacks on science and reason.


REL S 390A-390B. Religion and American Institutions (D) (3-3) [AI]

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Major religious movements, events, and issues affecting development of US government and institutions. Religious Studies 390A: From time of Spanish contact to 1900. Religious Studies 390B: Religion’s impact in twentieth century. This year-long course satisfies the graduation requirement in American Institutions.


REL S 395. New Religions (C) (3) [GE]

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II. C., Humanities for nonmajors.
America’s alternative religions, popularly called “cults” and why they attract spiritual seekers. New religions and transplanted Asian and African religions. Theoretical structures of belief systems and concrete specifics on different groups.


REL S 396W. Writing on Religion (C) (3)

Prerequisites: Satisfies Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement for students who have completed 60 units; completed Writing Placement Assessment with a score of 8 or higher (or earned a C or higher in RWS 280, 281, or LING 281 if score on WPA was 7 or lower); and completed General Education requirements in Composition and Critical Thinking. Proof of completion of prerequisites required: Test scores or verification of exemption; copy of transcript.
Theoretical approaches in study of religion and religious phenomena. Writing in discipline of religious studies through analysis of key thinkers in history of religions.


REL S 400. Senior Seminar (C) (3)

Prerequisite: Religious Studies 396W; others with consent of department chair.
Senior capstone seminar in major. Discussion and research on topics in religious studies. Formal research paper and presentation.


REL S 405. Faith and Hope (D) (3) [GE] (Same course as Humanities 405)

Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Humanities as expressed in religion. Acquisition and/or loss of faith. Questioning of theological systems. Confrontation with death. Nature of hope. Use of signs, symbols, and narratives to generate social structures. Symbolic and mystical systems of meaning. Influence of religion upon culture.


REL S 424. The Supernatural in Cross-Cultural Perspective (C) (3) [GE] (Same course as Anthropology 424)

Prerequisites: Anthropology 102, and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors.
Magic and religion. Conceptions of the supernatural in a cross section of world’s cultures. Anthropological theories relating to supernatural beliefs and practices.


REL S 458. Asian Traditions (B) (3) [GE] (Same course as Asian Studies 458)

Prerequisites: Six units of Asian-content courses or upper division standing and completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II.C., Humanities required for nonmajors. Social, cultural, economic, and political traditions of South, Southeast, and East Asia; how they functioned in theory and practice prior to twentieth century.


RELS 470. American Indian Spirituality and Epistemologies (B) (3) [GE] (Same course as American Indian Studies 470)

Prerequisite: Completion of the General Education requirement in Foundations of Learning II. C., Humanities.
Spirits, prophesies, and renewals of the Indian way compared through symbols and ceremony. Religions surveyed as they have been influenced by foreign elements and philosophies. Influences on values and tribalism as reflected through symbols and other measures.


REL S 496. Experimental Topics (A) (B) (C) (D) (1-4)

Prerequisite: Three units of religious studies.
Selected topics. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Limit of nine units of any combination of 296, 496, 596 courses applicable to a bachelor’s degree.


REL S 499. Special Study (A) (B) (C) (D) (1-3)

Prerequisite: Twelve upper division units in religious studies.
Individual study. Maximum credit six units.


REL S 507. The Reformation (A) (B) (C) (D) (3) (Same course as History 507)

Continental Europe, 1500-1648. Split of Christendom; political and intellectual dissent; social fabric of family life; relationship between gender, class, and power; cultural stratification of European society.


REL S 581. Major Theme (A) (B) (C) (D) (3)

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and upper division or graduate standing.
Advanced systematic study of a theme or motif selected from major religious traditions. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Maximum credit six units.


REL S 582. Major Text (A) (B) (C) (D) (1-3)

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and upper division or graduate standing.
Advanced systematic study of a selected scripture or classic text(s) selected from one of the major religious traditions. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Maximum credit six units.


REL S 583. Major Tradition (A) (B) (C) (D) (3)

Prerequisites: Three units of religious studies and upper division or graduate standing.
Advanced systematic study of the doctrines, practices, and development of a major religious tradition. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Maximum credit six units.


REL S 596. Advanced Topics in Religious Studies (A) (B) (C) (D) (1-3)

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.
Advanced selected topics in religious studies. May be repeated with new content. See Class Schedule for specific content. Limit of nine units of any combination of 296, 496, 596 courses applicable to a bachelor’s degree. Credit for 596 and 696 applicable to a master’s degree with approval of the graduate adviser.

 

Sample Course Projects

 Below are sample student projects from our courses.

Fall 2016 - Instructor: Dr. Rebecca Bartel

The final assignment for the course was to put together a website that treated various current events with sociological theory.

HB2 law in North Carolina
By Stephan Romero

The North Dakota Access Pipeline
By Trevor Melanese

The Bathroom Bill and the Orlando Angels
By Anne Locklay and Samantha Myers

Trump the Hijab!
By Astrid Hoevring and Ulrikke Skavoepoll

Women and Religion
By Sandra Jensen and Camilla Strozek

Fall 2016 - Instructor: Dr. Drew Thomases

This course explored “evil,” both its meaning, and how the language of evil has been used by diverse religious communities. The final project for this class was not a final exam or a final essay, but a podcast.

Listen to sample podcasts from the class.